Melissa Potts sings favorite songs at the Memory Cafe (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

The Alzheimer’s Network of Oregon has reemerged with a renewed mission to connect people with Alzheimer’s or dementia and their families and caregivers together. On June 23, the organization held its first “Memory Café” in Keizer.  

A Memory Café is a safe and comfortable space where caregivers and their loved ones can socialize, listen to music, play games, share a meal, and enjoy other appropriate activities. These activities are varied but tend to focus on topics that are apt to cause one to reminisce. It is not a place to “drop off” a loved one, but a way to share in activities. This can be a welcome break from the regular routine. Family members support each other and can exchange information and helpful care advice.

The first Memory Café, themed “A Picnic in the Park,” was held at River Park in Keizer. A small group of about 15 people attended. Spouses, friends, and children of those experiencing various stages of dementia played games and had lunch and ice cream. Melissa Potts, a licensed music therapist, played the keyboard and guitar, leading old favorites like “Country Road Take Me Home” and “Delta Dawn.” Those who could sang along or simply tapped their fingers on the picnic table.

Board members and volunteers from the Alzheimer’s Network and Center 50+, including Kathy Belcher, Richard McGinty, David Rheinholdt, Marilyn Daily, Wendy Kilgore, Martha Russell, and Evelyn Ostermann, greeted guests and facilitated the event.

Marilyn Daily, director of Center 50+, brought Wellness on Wheels van. The van came with food/care box emergency delivery, wellness programs, arts and crafts to homebound seniors during the pandemic. In addition, the Fix-it Brigade may come along to assess fall risks and home safety inspections.

A pilot test for future events was a great success, and additional events are already scheduled for July 21, 2021, and August 19, 2021. To learn more or contribute, email [email protected]

The Alzheimer's Network of Oregon is a nonprofit network of experienced volunteers offering support and resources to persons with memory loss, their families, and caregivers in the Salem-Keizer area since 2003.

Wendy Kilgore welcomes guests to the Memory Cafe (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Marilyn Daily, director of Center 50+ stands in front of the WOW (Wellness on Wheels) van (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Memory Cafe Coordinators Martha Russell, Kathy Belcher, and David Rheinholdt (Mary Louise VanNatta/Special to Salem Reporter)

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional writing regularly about local events for Salem Reporter.

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